Book Review – What Girls are Made of
What Girls are Made of is not an easy book to read. It is not happy or uplifting. It is full of the kind of subject matters that come with trigger warnings; abortion, emotionally abusive relationships, highly sexual content and animal cruelty. It is however much more than a set of issues put together in a timely novel. It is messy and honest and along with the powerful authors note at the end it is exactly the kind of book I would have loved as a teenager and that resonates still.
Plot in a Nutshell
What Girls are Made of opens as Nina’s mother informs her that unconditional love can be stopped at any time. The story picks up two years later as Nina wrestles to understand love against the backdrop of a damaging relationship and her parents emotional distance.
As an adult reader much of the content of What Girls are Made Of is horrifying and rage inducing. Nina is clearly struggling. Her relationship is unhealthy, her female friendships almost non-existent. Her parents, rather than helping and supporting are distant. Her mother is a key part of the problem. Nina’s loneliness and insecurity as she struggles to figure out her place in the world is heart breaking. Her confusion about what love is and how to be loved is uncomfortable to read .
Nina is an open, transparent narrator. Between her honest narration of life and the snippets of her writing project reading this novel is a little like reading her diary. She does not self-censor and as such you see her emotions tumble off the page. This messy, sometimes infuriating insight really reminded me (painfully) of the obsessive, self-absorbed confusion of being a teenage girl.
Interspersed throughout the novel are samples of a writing project Nina is completing for school. She has chosen to predominantly write about the suffering of female Catholic saints and this writing provides an allegorical counter point to her daily life. I enjoyed these chapters which read very differently to the rest of the novel.
There is something about this one that will stick with me.
Buy What Girls are Made Of